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Channel 5’s £450m sale to Viacom sees Rosenblatt, Shearman, Olswang and Lewis Silkin acting

Channel 5’s £450m sale to Viacom has thrown up roles for Rosenblatt Solicitors; a London-based Shearman & Sterling team; Olswang and Lewis Silkin as the US broadcasting giant snaps up the UK’s only privately owned commercial television channel.

Having begun work only on 27 April, Rosenblatt acted for Channel 5 and its owners, Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, with a team led by corporate partner Jon Lovitt and media partner Chris Pulham. The team was supported by regulatory partner Peter Price, and real estate partner Martin Buckerlee.

Shearman is advising longstanding client Viacom, which owns MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central among many other channels which are seen in over 600m households worldwide. Shearman’s team was entirely London-based, led by head of European M&A Laurence Levy and including antitrust partner James Webber and recent Weil Gotshal & Manges lateral Sarah Priestley, who advised on tax matters.

Shearman advised Viacom on its landmark acquisition of US film production company Dreamworks for $1.6bn in 2005, in a deal led by current senior partner of the firm, Creighton Condon. Last year the firm advised Viacom on the purchase of the remaining stake in MTV Italia for €13.4m.

Completing the roster of advisers on this deal is Olswang, with a team led by media regulatory partner John Enser advising Viacom on commercial regulatory matters and Lewis Silkin’s litigation partner Richard Miskella, who advised Viacom on employment issues.

While the purchase price fell short of the £700m target originally set by Desmond, it is over four times the £104m he paid for it four years ago.

‘This transaction is typical of our approach to complex transactions that need to be completed within tight time constraints and is a testament to my team’s skills and tenacity,’ said Ian Rosenblatt, founder and senior partner of Rosenblatt.

‘The transaction came out of an auction process started in January 2014. Work started on Sunday 27th April and went on around the clock in order for signing to take place on Wednesday night.’